A period of unemployment can be difficult to deal with. Find out how to improve your chances of getting into work – and look after yourself in the meantime.
Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) is a government benefit to help keep you going while you are looking for work. If you qualify, you’ll get at least £57.35. You can get more if you’re over 25 or you’re a lone parent.
You can get JSA if:
- You’re 18 or over
- You’re not in full-time education
- You live in England, Scotland or Wales
- You’re able to work and are actively seeking it
- You work less than 16 hours a week on average
- You go to a JSA interview at a Job Center
There may be extra conditions attached to your JSA, such as spending a certain number of hours looking for work each week, or registering with a recruitment agency. Your JSA may also be stopped if you turn down a job or training, don’t apply for jobs or don’t turn up to Job Center.
If you’re on JSA for more than 3 months, you might have to join the Work Program, which may include work experience or training.
You may also be able to access other benefits based on your income, such as Housing Benefit.
You can apply for JSA online.
Finding a job
Most job-hunting advice applies whether you’re still studying, in work or unemployed, but there are extra things you should do when looking for work is a full-time job.
- Be systematic: Setting a schedule and sticking to it will help to keep you focused. You might spend your mornings looking for jobs to apply for and your afternoons writing and sending applications, for example.
- Set goals: Of course, your main goal is to find a job, but setting smaller goals can help to keep you motivated and make sure you’re doing enough. These might include sending out a certain number of applications each week, or getting a certain number of interviews.
- Look for extra opportunities: Job fairs and similar events can help you to hone your CV, make new contacts and discover now job options.
Read more advice on finding a job.
Money is one of the biggest worries when you’re looking for work. Budgeting carefully doesn't just help you to get the most out of your money: it also puts you back in control and helps you to worry less.
Write down everything you spend to work out where you can cut back, and how much you need to cover the essentials.
You might not be able to get the kind of job you want straight away, but getting any job in the meantime can be extremely useful.
As well as earning you some money, this can help to avoid having a big gap in your CV and could provide some relevant experience. However, there are downsides. The time and energy you spend looking for and working at another job can’t be spent looking for the job you want permanently. Keep this in mind when you are looking for a job: try to find something with hours that will still allow you to look for permanent jobs.
If you have skills like writing or web design, you might be able to do some freelance work while looking for a job. This allows you to fit work around your job hunt, as well as showing employers that you are motivated and can take the initiative. Remember that this can affect your Jobseeker’s Allowance.
Skills and training
One of the few benefits of being unemployed is that you have a lot of spare time. Taking the opportunity to improve your skills can improve your chances of finding a job, as well as helping you to avoid getting bored.
You could try:
- Teaching yourself using books and online resources
- Taking a free online course
- Taking a local adult learning course – these are often free if you are unemployed
Looking after yourself
Unemployment can have serious effects on people’s physical and mental health, so it’s important to take care of yourself during any period of unemployment. Take these steps to make things as easy as possible:
- Try to get plenty of exercise and eat healthy. This is important for mental well-being as well as your general health.
- Treat job hunting as a full-time job. Structure your time and set targets for yourself. This will help you to feel in control.
- Don’t take rejection personally. Everyone gets rejected for jobs, for all kinds of reasons, so try to see it as an experience to learn from and move on to the next opportunity.
- Get out of the house. It can be easy to become a shut-in when you’re unemployed. Make sure you stay social, and consider taking your job hunt out of the house – for example, to a local library.
- Don’t be afraid to get help if you need it. If you’re struggling or feeling down, don’t be embarrassed about asking for help, whether it’s from family, friends, or a professional counselling service. The sooner you reach out, the sooner things will improve.